In July, Future Facilities, a CAD software company, released the results of a survey it conducted of more than 350 electrical engineers (the link to the story is below) on how thermal management relates to reliability in electronics design. The survey coincided with the release of the company’s newest version of its thermal simulation software 6SigmaET.
Forty percent of the surveyed engineers believed thermal simulations for their projects to be too time-consuming or complex. Sixty-two percent of the engineers said that they would rather over-design a project than optimize thermal performance in the design process. In fact, 33 percent of the engineers called thermal issues an “irritation” and would prefer to not deal with them.
Tom Gregory, Product Manager at 6SigmaET, concluded, “It’s clear that a lot of engineers still don’t feel comfortable creating thermal simulations of their designs, a fact which is not being helped by the complex nature of most thermal simulation tools currently on the market.”
The engineers at Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS), a leading-edge engineering and manufacturing company focused on the thermal management of electronics, have long demonstrated that thermal solutions are a critical component to electronics design and that incorporating thermal management early in the design process will lead to a more cost-effective and reliable product.
By incorporating thermal management into the design process engineers optimize time between failure for individual components as well as the overall system. They actually reduce the cost of the system by limiting the need to overdesign it. Well thought out thermal solutions increase the likelihood that the final design will succeed and meet the specifications that were set out at the beginning of the project.
The survey results pointed to CFD analysis as the jumping off point for thermal solutions. But an easier and more efficient way to start the process is with an integral or analytical model, using pencil and paper or a spreadsheet. In its 3-Core Design Process, ATS has utilized integral modeling as its first step to quickly and easily provide first order solutions and determine whether a design will succeed in meeting its thermal requirements.
Integral modeling, as Dr. Kaveh Azar, founder, President, and CEO of ATS, explained in a webinar (the link is below), utilizes standard equations based on the basic laws that govern thermal engineering: Conservation of Mass, Conservation of Momentum, Conservation of Energy, and Equation of State (i.e. the Ideal Gas Law).
Determining pressure, temperature, and air velocity differentials throughout a system and plugging those numbers into equations that most engineers will remember from undergraduate and graduate training will define the problem that will be faced in designing the system.
Dr. Azar said, “When I focus on integral modeling as I go through the process, you’ll see how easy it is and how broad-spectrumed the applications of these are and this is going to form the first foundation for any kind of analysis that we do in electronics cooling.”
Integral modeling is applicable to any domain and will give a substantiated, independent model to ensure the system is built within the proper parameters. Taking this early step saves time and money that may have been wasted on designing a system that ultimately would not work. Integral modeling also establishes parameters under which the system can be built to save costs after deployment.
Dr. Azar explained, “If we design it for the worst case scenario, we always have the adequate margins and as a result have lesser cost of deployment.”
It is a competitive market. Integral modeling is a quick first step to ensure thermal solutions are part of a design to save on component and system costs. A few quick calculations will have a major impact on the project’s bottom line.
The survey results from Future Facilities can be found at http://www.thermalnews.com/main/news/40-percent-of-electronics-engineers-find-thermal-simulation-too-complex-and-time-consuming.